The Gypsies
The Early History
Gypsies in Scotland
Gypsies in the Borders
The Yetholm Gypsies
Gypsy Families
The Faa Family
Jean Gordon

William Faa II (1784-1847)

William II has been described as a 'brawny bully', who made his living from taking coal from Etal to Kelso and Jedburgh. One of the many sons of William I, he succeeded his father.

William II also owned the inn in Kirk Yetholm called 'The Queen'. Crowned in 1784, he reigned until his death in 1847. He was, like most gypsies, and indeed, most innkeepers, a great talker and reminiscer. He was also a very competent footballer, fisherman and smuggler. His smuggling consisted of taking whisky over the border into England, thus avoiding export tax, and returning with Dutch gin which had been smuggled into one of the small ports south of Berwick. Having an inn also gave him a way of adding to the profit level.

Writing in his record of the church life of the borders, Tait says:

'Gipsy royalty is also a thing of the past. Its splendour had waned considerably even when Will Faa, the last King but one, wore the crown. Will was a man of great physical strength, and had been a noted smuggler; but a sword-cut in the wrist received in a struggle with gaugers (customs-men) ended his smuggling, and the evening of his life was spent peacefully. His character was superior to that of the rest of his tribe, and this, with a certain reserve in his manner, deepened respect. The Marquis of Tweeddale and Wauchope of Niddrie, to mark their consideration for him, gave the old man the right of shooting over their property and fishing in their streams; and he was no mean hand with the rod and the gun.'

As a famous smuggler, who plied his northward trade, in brandy and gin, between Boulmer and Yetholm, he knew all the tracks and routes between the two points. These smugglers were known as Boomer-men. Poems and ballads record the exploits of these men, and Will II features as a folk hero.

William had no family, so on his death, in October 1847, the Crown passed to his sister's husband, Charlie Blythe, then aged 70. Thus started the Faa-Blythe dynasty.

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The Faa Family - The Gypsies

Esther Faa Blythe

Charles Faa Blythe Coronation

At St James Fair 1907

At St James Fair 1907

Kirk Yetholm Green c1920

Kirk Yetholm - Muggers Row c1920

Looking up the hill to Staerough

Kirk Yetholm Gypsy Palace c1945

King & Queen and Palace

Gypsy Palace present day